NEWPORT, Maine — With his front legs in bandages, Mickey the border collie walked with a pronounced limp but was still eager to greet people at Newport District Court on Friday where his abuser pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges.
Jason Tompkins, 31, of Bangor, pleaded guilty to the Class D charge of cruelty to animals as part of a plea agreement. He was sentenced to 120 days in jail with all but 10 days suspended. He was also ordered to pay a $500 fine and $2,656 in restitution to cover veterinary bills.
In September 2011, Tompkins “lost his temper” after the dog urinated on the floor of his residence in Carmel because he didn’t open the door soon enough, according to court documents. Tompkins told police that he picked the dog up and threw it against the floor.
Mouse, as Mickey was named then, did not move after hitting the ground.
Penobscot County Assistant District Attorney Susan Pope and Penobscot County courthouse maintenance director Tom Duffy began taking care of Mickey after the incident. The dog was removed from Tompkins’ house by a Carmel town employee and taken to the Penobscot Veterinary Clinic in Bangor. Pope, who has three dogs, including one who is blind, then took the dog in and she and her husband nursed him back from the brink of death, Duffy said in a previously published report.
A veterinarian told Pope that if Mickey didn’t respond in seven days, the dog would never move again. He started moving in 11 or 12 days, she said Friday.
Duffy said water therapy and a home-built device designed to suspend the dog in the air have helped bring Mickey back to life. Mickey now spends several days a week in the old Penobscot County courthouse begging for treats.
Pope and Duffy along with Mickey were in court on Friday as Judge Evert Fowle heard the case.
Because of a potential conflict of interest with Pope now owning the dog, the Somerset County district attorney’s office took over the case.
Both Pope and Duffy addressed the judge.
“This dog was a completely paralyzed animal,” Duffy said of the lengthy challenge of getting Mickey to move and walk again. The dog had suffered a significant spinal injury.
Pope fought back tears as she spoke.
“I think justice has been served here today,” she said, adding that she originally wanted Tompkins to spend as much time in jail as it took Mickey to learn to walk again — eight weeks. “I think he’s learned a lesson. If a dog needs to go to the bathroom, you need to get up off the computer and let the dog out.”
Richard Hall of Bangor, Tompkins’ attorney, said Tompkins didn’t intend to harm the dog.
“He overreacted to the situation. He did not intend to cause the injury he caused,” said Hall.
Tompkins had no previous criminal record, said Somerset County Assistant District Attorney Frank Griffin.
In addition to the jail time and fines, the original plea agreement called for a one-year administrative release where Tompkins could not own or possess an animal.
Judge Fowle didn’t think one year was enough.
“I’m concerned about limiting it to one year,” said Fowle. “I take these types of cases seriously.”
Fowle suggested changing the order to five years without owning or possessing an animal as opposed to one. Tompkins and Hall agreed.
Tompkins said he has a therapy cat that lives at his mother’s home. An exception was made so that he could visit the cat as long as he was supervised.
Before being taken to Penobscot County Jail, Tompkins apologized for his actions.
“I never meant to hurt him,” he said. “I apologize. I’m sorry.”
“Try to make this the worst mistake you ever make, OK?” Fowle said.
Tompkins faced up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000 for the Class D misdemeanor. He originally pleaded not guilty to the charge in April.
BDN reporter Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report